Suarez International/TSD Combat Systems Staff Instructor
There are many shooters who feel that they can ignore bullpup rifles. This is, quite simply, a mistake because there are many advantages to the design and more rifles of this type being released every year.
A short list of available bullpup rifles would include:
AUG (including the MSAR) – Austria/USA
FN2000 - Belgium
FN P90 - Belgium
Tavor TAR 21 - Israel
FAMAS (Hate this rifle! Yuck.) - France
KelTec RFB - USA
L85 (POS!!) – Great Britain
VHS (I'd LOVE it if Springfield Armory could bring these in with the XD!) - Croatia
QBZ 95 - China
AK Bullpups – USA, by way of the drunken monkeys that convert WASRs.
Vektor – South Africa
As one can see, there are many rifles available, but I want to concentrate on the rifle that I feel is the best bullpup, and certainly the most proven bullpup available: the AUG pattern rifle.
The AUG was adopted by the Austrian army in 1977, as the STG77. It has also been adopted by other militaries as well, i.e. Ireland and Australia. It is a very proven design that has seen combat around the world and yet many still do not understand the many advantages of a rifle of this type over a conventionally configured rifle.
Number one is, of course, COMPACTNESS! With a single point sling, you can hide a bullpup under a 3/4 length coat. An AUG pattern rifle with a 16.5 inch barrel is only about an inch longer than a 16 inch barreled upper from an AR. Try working out of a vehicle with a conventionally stocked rifle and then run the same drills with a bullpup. It is no contest. As a driver or passenger you can have the bullpup rifle pointed muzzle down between your legs, with the muzzle resting on the seat cushion. Responding to a threat is not hard at all. Yes, you can use a folding stocked weapon, like an AK or Para FAL, but you still have to deploy the stock in order to fight effectively with that rifle.
Movement inside of structures is much easier, similar to the advantage a SMG like the UZI or MP5 gives you, without the terminal ballistic penalty. It is also very easy to use a bullpup with one hand since the center of gravity is farther back, so if you have to open a door, move an obstacle, etc.
With an AUG, you can remove the barrel and then things get REALLY stealthy. I can take a standard size book bag/day pack and it can carry the rifle, the dismounted barrel, 4+ magazines, binos, range finder, etc. And NOBODY is the wiser. Consider this scenario: a police officer or soldier in an urban setting needs to move stealthily to a hide site or OP in order to gather intel. With the day pack on his shoulder, he can move into a position to observe, and provide accurate fire from his position of over watch. Quite simply it is an SBR without the paperwork and it has lower muzzle blast!
In the CQB arena there are things you can do with a bullpup that are impossible to do with a standard rifle. Consider the EQCB techniques we teach with the pistol, one of which is to wrap up the opponents head/neck with your non-firing hand and arm and then fire into their lower abdomen. You can perform this with a bullpup! Because the bullpup is so easy to use with one hand, you are effectively treating it like a big pistol.
Gun grabs? There is only about 6 inches of barrel protruding past the forward handgrip of the AUG pattern rifle. Who do you think has the leverage advantage in a struggle? There is no contest. If someone tries to grab the barrel, you just blow them off your muzzle.
Number one is the same as any other rifle; you have to know how to run your gun. Make its use reflexive. Learn to shoot on the move, from both shoulders as necessary. The movement matrix we teach at SI is used across platforms and an important part of it is to use the rifle from both shoulders. You CAN do this with a bullpup, but each one has its own challenges. When I developed the material I showed in the Bullpup Rifle Gun Fighting DVD, I did a TON of dry practice with my rifle before I went live fire. This also falls into the realm of learning to run your gun.
If someone does not feel comfortable shooting the AUG pattern cross dominantly, my advice is to just get the FN2000 so you do not have to worry about the brass. That being said, I prefer the AUG pattern rifles. They handle better, reloads are easier, and it is a more mature design.
The SI long gun methodology is very much concepts driven. The concepts that we use to run the AK/M4/shotgun, etc. transfer to the bullpup without issue. Are there specific manipulations that must be used with specific weapons? Of course there are! But the concepts are identical. Mag changes are unaffected, especially if you reload with retention. If you are using a gamer’s speed load, you might be fractionally slower, but in the real world, the time difference is a non-issue. Besides, the fastest reload is to transition to your handgun.
If I am shooting around the right side barricade, I'll shoot off my right shoulder. The opposite is also true. With the FN bullpups, there are not any issues, since they are ambidextrous rifles. With the AUG pattern rifle I will also do the same, but it is mandatory that your head rides farther back on the stock or you will eat brass. Using an electronic optic, there is no eye relief to worry about so shooter accuracy is unaffected. The best way I have found to ensure that your head does not get over the ejection port is to aim with the left eye, even though a right eye dominant shooter will want to rotate the head to use the dominant eye. If you check what I was doing on the video you will see that I was running the rifle with partial and full shoulder transfers, and I did not bleed!
Trigger pull: Not going to lie and say that the trigger pull on a bullpup rifle will EVER be as good as a match trigger on an AR. That being said, the trigger pull on my MSAR is MUCH better than the trigger pull of the brand new M16A4 I was issued in the service. With first time firers I tell them to treat it like a Glock trigger or that of a DA revolver. Don't try to stage it, just work it smoothly and you can easily make the precision shot.
Sighting also can have some challenges. The nature of the design makes for a significant difference between the line of sight, and the bore. This of course results in significant offset at close range, similar to what you have with the M16/M4 pattern rifles. How do you deal with it? I always tell my students that if you want to put rounds in the cranial-ocular cavity to aim just under the hairline at 7 yards or less. The straight-line design pretty much makes optics mandatory, but that is not a bad thing. It is much easier to hit the bad guys using optical sights.
The days of only needing to know how to run a FAL, G3, M14, M16, and an AK are over. Bullpups are a reality on the modern battlefield and if you do not know how to use a rifle of this design, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. More to the point, the very real tactical advantages of the AUG design and other quality bullpups can be a real game changer in the combative use of the rifle.
Click Here: Bullpup Rifle Gunfighting DVD